>I uncovered more historical documents this morning. Scrapbooks and old pictures from the 1960’s, the early years of this school. They were in a box on the bottom shelf of the magazine/video retrieval unit room almost forgotten until I spied the grubby cover. I was moving a step stool and “1964” caught my eye. I pushed a cart out of the way and lifted the corner of the cover on top to see old black and white photos. I immediately pulled it out like an EMT, carried it with haste to the other room, carefully pulled out the tomes one-by-one and laid them on top of the table to assess the damage. There were some water stains and some yellowed newspaper clippings fell out of random pages. However, no major harm was done and I cleaned them as best I could, placing them afterward in our archival closet where they now rest comfortably.
How many years were they just sitting there? How many more would they have been there if I had not found them? Does any of it mean anything to anyone? It should. It’s pieces of history. Which brings me to the greater question of today’s post. How do we go about ensuring today is captured as history for future generations?
So much of what happens on the Internet is fleeting. Here today…gone two minutes from now. There is a lot of junk, but what about the good stuff? We used to keep news clippings and pictures to tell history’s story. Although newspapers, magazines and other print publications are still far from being totally obsolete, I fear it will come eventually. I trust print sources so much more that digital sources because of their permanence. Although papers can age and disintegrate and digital equipment seems so much more resilient, the print information at least sticks around for a while. If there’s something online one day, there’s no guarantee it will be around the next. How are libraries holding onto history?
Though I know librarians and historians are working to do just that, it’s a question I pose to everyone, as well. Our personal histories are just as important. What happens when we stop getting film developed and only have computer files? What happens when we stop writing letters and giving cards and only write emails and text messages? We may be saving paper by not print things out, but if we don’t take the time to print some things out, we could be losing ourselves, too. I come from a generation that still remembers watching silent home movies from a projector and loves flipping through albums. What are our children going to have? Flash drives and memory cards from their iphones?